Iodine Overdose

Sea vegetables
Sea vegetables are a safe iodine source
Expert Fact Checked

Iodine overdose typically results from consuming too many supplements or medications. It is generally difficult to consume too much iodine via a food source, although not entirely impossible.

Role of Iodine in the Body

To understand the danger of too much iodine, it's necessary to first know the role of this trace mineral in the body.

Many people do not realize just how important iodine is for a healthy body. This mineral is required for the body to synthesize thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism. Low levels of iodine in the body can cause weight gain, depression, and fatigue. Expectant mothers with low levels of iodine have an elevated risk of birth defects. In addition, some evidence suggests iodine has an important part to play in preventing certain types of cancers, namely breast and stomach cancer. In this way, iodine is essential for human life and an iodine deficiency can have significant negative health consequences.

Low levels of iodine are very common in certain parts of the world and were once prevalent in the United States. Table salt is generally supplemented with iodine, which has lowered the risk of iodine deficiency in many populations.

Iodine Overdose Symptoms

Much like an iodine deficiency, an iodine overdose may also have a devastating impact on health. Accidental overdose of supplements or medications containing iodine can initiate an instant reaction.

Here are a few of the side effects of an iodine overdose.

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Burning Sensations, occurring on the tongue, in the throat, or in the stomach
  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Weak Pulse
  • Fainting
  • Coma

Elevated iodine consumption over time can sometimes affect the thyroid, causing either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism to occur. In some cases, individuals develop goiter, thyroid papillary cancer, or even severe skin reactions to excess iodine levels in the body.

Recommended Daily Intake of Iodine

To prevent iodine overdose and toxicity, the United States Department of Agriculture has set the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for iodine at approximately 150 micrograms for most adults. Expectant and lactating mothers require slightly higher at about 220 and 290 respectively. The intakes for infants and children vary based on age.

The Tolerable Upper Limit (TUL) for adults is 1,100 micrograms.

Sources of Iodine

Unless directed by a doctor or other medical professional, it is generally not recommended to take iodine supplements. There are several ways to reach and maintain proper iodine levels that are far less likely to cause iodine overdose than supplementation.

The following food sources contain iodine.

  • Iodized Salt
  • Kelp
  • Seafood
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Garlic
  • Seaweed
  • Spinach
  • Hard boiled Eggs
  • Low-Fat Yogurt
  • Cow's Milk

Speak to a Physician About Iodine Intake

In most cases, even high levels of iodine taken in via foods are tolerated very well. There are instances of individuals developing iodine sensitivity or conditions which may make it easier to develop an iodine overdose or toxicity. In these special circumstances, a doctor or nutritional expert can help you regulate your intake to prevent iodine overdose and negative health consequences. For more information about iodine's role in the body or about iodine toxicity, speak to a medical professional.

Iodine Overdose